My Crynicles: A Digital representation of Modern dating as a young, black girl

My Crynicles, a web series on creator Sierra June’s love life, is the perfect illustration what navigating relationships as a young, black girl looks like.

If you’re a regular on Twitter, then you’ve definitely come across one of Sierra June’s videos. 

This one might jog your memory:

These videos are clips from her animated series My Crynicles, a channel dedicated to narrating her experiences with men who have treated her badly. 

I’d come across Sierra’s on Twitter. I found them floating around the timeline but I kept avoiding them because I knew I was going to get in my feels. People’s captions on the tweets were more than enough for me to know to stay away.

But the videos kept popping up and people’s comments were intriguing, so I clicked and dear Lord. 

My temper went from zero to 100 real quick.

This anger came from a place of remembering. I have a loaded artillery of stories of being clowned, gaslit, and taken for a fool. Most of these stories come with personal reflections on where I could have done better, but as I’ve grown I’ve also allowed myself to accept the instances where I couldn’t have seen the madness coming my way.

Sierra narrates her shows in a straightforward manner – which comes across as endearing because she has one of the most innocent voices I’ve ever heard. She recalls her experiences from high school, starting with an ex-boyfriend who left her stranded in the rain for another girl.

This show is intense. You will laugh, you’ll shake your head, but you’ll also spend a lot of time nursing heavy chest pains.

A lot of the situations Sierra found herself in weren’t unique to her. They’re moments I’ve found myself in too. From the casual friend who turns into a demon, to the “good Christian brother” who’s not ready to commit but still wants to call you “wife”, there is enough content for you to relate to.

I think that’s why this series has grown to be what it is. A lot of us women can see ourselves in Sierra. We’ve met at least one of these guys. We’ve been sold dreams. We’ve endured gaslighting, emotional abuse, and all kinds of ugly. We’ve had moments where we share shamelessly long essays, pouring out our hearts in hope that the recipient will finally see us.

Many of us are also survivors of sexual assault & violence. We’ve had to fight our ways out of manipulation.

This show is so easy to get lost in because it speaks to our hearts. It’s a reminder that we’re not alone and that we’re seen.

We watch because we relate. We watch because we know.

There were moments where I’d find myself shouting, “Baby, no! Don’t do it!” 

A part of me felt like I was shouting at my younger self, to be honest.

There’s a certain point in the series where things take an immensely heartbreaking turn and it’s hurt me to see women within my inner circle comment with, “That’s me.”

It hurts to know that women share a bond in surviving violence. In moments where we were stripped of our power. It hurts that we have to affirm ourselves with speeches, or castigate ourselves into believing we should have known better. I can’t wait until the day all the blame sits on the men who refuse to recognize boundaries and consent.

I can’t wait until we’re finally free from having to justify our actions.

It hurt to see that Sierra had to wait so long to speak on her pain. But, it was also so encouraging to see how she’s turned this into a way to help other women.

I feel proud of her when I watch this series because this is her telling her story on her terms. She’s owning her narrative and sharing her experiences openly. I feel proud of her as if I know her.

But she’s so vulnerable, by the time you finish the series, you’ll feel as if you know her, too.

Her latest video comes out this weekend. If you haven’t watched the series yet, then you need to add it to your immediate watchlist.
You can find her channel here.

Hanifa: This Is What Happens When Fashion & Tech Meet Black Girl MAgic

Anifa Mvuemba and her team at Hanifa broke the internet when she unveiled her newest collection using animated 3D Models and the power of social media.

Hanifa collection
Source: hanifa.co

What were you up to last week? Can you remember?

Did it, by any chance, involve preparing for a groundbreaking fashion show that would cause a hell of a buzz all over social media? 

The Fashion Show that Shook the Social Media Scene

For Anifa Mvuemba, it did. This time last week, the Congolese designer was hours away from releasing her newest collection, Pink Label Congo, for Hanifa a contemporary brand that prides itself in glamour and inclusivity

But, this roll-out came with a twist. Instead of posting flat images of her design, or going the usual gallery route, Anifa debuted her collection on Instagram Live using live 3D-action.

Due to technical issues, the virtual runway show took place on the brand’s bridal page, but this didn’t hinder attendance in any way. Viewers crowded the platform to watch the 3D models, with striking, relatable curves, strut their stuff down the runway in elegant garments accentuated by their glorious curves. 

The Intersection of Fashion, Innovation, and Tech

This was a special moment and it received the attention it deserved. 

While some have dubbed this show as the perfect way to pivot in Covid-19 times, this actually wasn’t Anifa’s initial plan. In fact, she had been planning this virtual fashion show for seven months. A crazy case of stellar timing allowed for her show to meet the global conversation on digital transformation.

It’s because of this that publications like Elle and CNN have said that this fashion show has set the pace for the future of the fashion industry. 3D modeling is not new to the fashion space, and there were voices from the comments section that tried to make this clear.

Fair, but it’s clear that Anifa’s work stood out and served as a catalyst for the digital conversation. She put in the work, the timing was ideal (though I believe this show would’ve still received the same attention in time without COVID), and the work spoke to the audience.

Layers and Layers of Representation and Inclusion

This was a labor of love from an African woman to a world filled with African women who have often struggled with finding clothes, in mainstream spaces, that had their bodies in mind. The first time I saw the video of the fashion show, I didn’t have to do mental gymnastics to picture myself in the outfits. The beautiful thing about Hanifa is they don’t just sell the dream of offering their ranges to plus-size women, they follow through too.

What makes this moment even special is the fact that this show was led by a black, African woman. And she didn’t hide this. The Pink Label Congo collection was a tribute to Congo, particularly shining a light on the exploitation taking place in the cobalt mines in the country. 

This wasn’t just a fashion show. It was more than a digital innovation. It was representation on another level and a reminder to creators out there that there is space for us. There is space for our work. There is space for our causes. There is space for our work.

This event was the perfect combination of accessible, innovative, and inclusive.

Accessible because it was hosted on a platform that was easy to access – Instagram Live. There were minimal hoops to jump through and it was also very easy for people to access the show after it took place.

Innovative because of the tech used to make this happen, the skills, and the effort behind it.

Inclusive because the “models” weren’t sizes that were hard for many women to relate to. Curvy bodies weren’t an afterthought. They were a priority. In an industry that’s known for its taxing barriers on black women and their bodies, it is inexplicably freeing to see a production like what Anifa pulled off as a black woman. 

As a creator, I see the world of possibilities before me. This groundbreaking innovation with a black African woman as the brain behind it, speaks volumes for black women creators all over the world.

A Moment of Hope I’ll Hold on To

In a world where the work of black creators is often stolen, with the original creators having to fight for their credit, it was immensely refreshing to see this event being praised live and out loud. One could argue that this isn’t a race thing or an ethnicity thing, but it is.

I look forward to seeing more of Anifa’s work. I can’t wait to get to a point where I can purchase garments from Hanifa.

The trends that will come from this event in the fashion industry will be exciting and it makes me so happy that this runway show will forever be a point of reference.

I hope more creators like Anifa will get to receive the attention and praise they deserve.

It’s only right.

You can watch the Hanifa fashion show here.

Did you think Your life would turn out like this?

After weeks in isolation, processing collective grief, and spending way too much on Twitter, I turned inward and started to question my life.

“Do you know who you are? Do you understand what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?” – Christina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy 

https://www.nappy.co/

I was knee-deep in questioning my life when this quote hit my chest. 

What is my life and what is going on? – I ask myself this question every day.

From the conversations happening on social media lately, it’s clear that I’m not the only one.

A battle of the conscience, a war of the wills

This conversation was triggered by a Twitter trend based on “unpopular opinions”. Recently, a group of housewives released articles on not knowing how they ended up where they are now; mothers being forced to choose between their careers and their children; and people combatting the concept of “if you don’t do ABC by 25, then you’re late”.

Social media has been busy.

I’ve been in my feelings for the whole week. I’ve experienced rage, disappointment, and hopelessness as I’ve read the realities of many women. I’ve questioned my own life and wondered where I’ll end up in the spectrum.

I am aware that I tend to follow the non-conventional route in life – and it’s come with its pushback. Is it intentional? I’m not sure. What I do know is I’ve been faced with the choice to go the “right route”. Tick all the boxes and not have to worry about being called different – but it was also laden with trauma that wasn’t worth it at all.

But, often I do question where I stand.

Where does this put me?

The one thing I do believe in wholeheartedly is that people (read: women) should have the chance to think of the life they want outside of the pressures they’re met with everyday. 

On paper, this sounds great. But, reality shows me this thinking is idealistic. But, that won’t stop me from pushing for it. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But when I think of me? What do I want? The clearest answer I’ve ever given is, “Peace.”

I don’t want to be at war in the relationships that are about love. I want to minimize the war I experience in my career as best as possible. I want to see my plans come to life. I want to be healthy. I want to be happy.

But, what does that look like?

Will this play out as me getting married, having kids, and finding balance with the desires of my heart?

Will it roll out as life as a single woman, content with her choices but often tired of defending her decisions?

Will I discover that the dreams in my heart mean nothing and I want a completely different path?

The truth is I don’t know. I don’t have the answers.

Am I meant to have the answers in the first place?

Probably not. I don’t think any of us are. 

If anything, the more we act like we have the answers, the more we set ourselves up. 

What kind of life do you want?

And I’m not asking this in a self-help guru kind of way. There’s no 12-step method that’s coming after your answer, no.

I’m genuinely interested. What kind of life do you want?

That’s the thought that dominated my mind when I studied the conversations taking place online. In the midst of the angst, rage, and hopelessness, I found myself asking, 

“What do I want?”

The next question that should follow? “Am I willing to fight for this?”

Bear in mind that fighting is hard. Fighting means letting go of the other side. Fighting means defending your choices – whether they’re traditional or not.

What kind of life do you want and are you willing to fight for it?

I understand there is a privilege in saying this. Not every one of us can ask, “What kind of life do I want?” Not everyone can fight.

If you live with an abusive partner, a life of freedom isn’t something you can get with the snap of a finger. If you’re in a stressful job, especially during these times, “just quitting” isn’t the answer. There are many situations that won’t qualify for this, and that is valid too.

It’s valid and it makes me sad because these situations remind me of the many systems that let us down. The justice system has let countless victims of abuse down. Don’t get me started on race. Or sexual violence.

The way the world is set up, financial freedom, or carving out your own career path is not an option for many of my peers. Especially now.

But, I’ll still put this message out there. It could help one. Anyone, really. Because, I know I’ve been that person before. The person who couldn’t use the advice because her situation has zero ways out.

That’s why we throw out messages of hope, right? To get to the one? The one we may never meet? The ones we might never hear from?

I also believe in miracles. Call me idealistic. Call me crazy.

But I’ve seen the worst situations switch up in the most unexplainable ways and I wish that for anyone and everyone in a situation where they feel like they can’t get out.

So, I’ll put this out there.

Ignore the noise around you. The noise that tells you what to do. The noise that tells you to follow the regular. Or the noise that tells you not to.

Who are you and what do you want out of your life?

Fight for your life. Fight for you. Fight for your heart.

There is space in the world for that. I believe this and I’ll carry it to my grave.

Fight for your life.

Fight for you.

Fight for your heart.

Week 2 Recap: I’m Not Sure If This Was a Good Idea

Last week was a lot and here are more of my thoughts.

“Chipo, are you sure about this?” – Self

Another week, another chance to find my way through this thing.

Last week started off really well, but a couple of major curved balls led to two posts and nothing from Wednesday to Friday.

There’s no need to embellish my observations. Last week was hard and I wasn’t able to meet my goal of five posts a week.

But, it hasn’t stopped me from showing up today.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking,

“Why on earth did I agree to this challenge in the first place?” 

I’ll be honest and admit that I’m writing this with a bit of angst in my chest. You’d think, after 2 or 3 years of being vulnerable online, I’d be used to this.

I’m a firm believer in sharing all parts of the process, but I am human too. The thought of saying, 

“Hey, guys. So last week didn’t work out either,” makes me feel nervous because who wants to admit that they’re “failing”?

The anxiety in me pictures the ones shaking their heads thinking, “Girl, give it a rest you aren’t ready.” And while I may never encounter these people face-to-face, the thought still daunts me. No one likes showing their mistakes in front of the world – even if the world is 30 – 40 readers.

I guess it’s part of the conditioning that comes with “Hustle” culture. You have to have everything together at all times.

But, I can’t blame hustle culture alone. There is also the part of me that questions when will I get this right? When does this process become a well-oiled machine?

I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve wondered if I’m ready for this. Did I start too early? Should this have waited?

Simple answer: No.

As I share my fears, doubts, and concerns, I can also acknowledge the stubborn resilience in me. The side of me that says:

This stuff happens. Carry on.

Last week’s post was about the reality of starting a project and dear reader, you have a front-row seat to my experience. It makes me uncomfortable, but it pushes me to be accountable, too.

By the time the end of the week came through, I knew that there was more work to be done. But first, I needed to lay off the work and take a break.

On Thursday evening, I closed my word processor and accepted that no social media or blogging was going to be done. My mind was shot, my schedule was a mess, and I knew it was time to throw in the towel – for the week.

This is what my process looked like, and maybe it’ll help you navigate your troublesome moments too.

When to temporarily throw in the towel:

  1. Evaluate the situation for what it is

Put your go-getter mentality aside, take a look at what you’re really dealing with, and understand what it is doing to you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

  1. Spell out the conclusions for yourself

This is another way of saying you need to accept that things are not working out and instead of trying to fight through it, you need to pause. Sometimes resistance doesn’t mean “fight back harder”, it means stop fighting and let go.

  1. Ignore the guilt that will try to pull you back

Taking a step back, or putting things on hold, will trigger feelings of doubt. Hold on to your decision to pause everything and follow through. Remind yourself that you need this break.

4. Indulge in activities that bring you joy and rest

This is the time to listen to your body, pay attention to the state of your mind, and let yourself be. Watch a few series, take a nap, read a book (for pleasure), plug a podcast, etc.

5. Try again

This is happens after you’ve allowed yourself to rest. If you want to see your idea live past the initial stages, you’re going to have to get used to trying again many times. I’m learning this reality all over again.

Last week may have only seen two posts out, but I’ve managed to make changes in my personal and professional life that will allow for easier navigation. I spent the weekend identifying a system that would work for me.

This week is for testing it out and so far it’s working. The test will be how I handle this week’s midweek madness. Until then, I’ll keep focusing on how to make this process work for me – and you, of course.

Last week started off really well, but a couple of major curved balls led to two posts and nothing from Wednesday to Friday.

There’s no need to embellish my observations. Last week was hard and I wasn’t able to meet my goal of five posts a week.

But, it hasn’t stopped me from showing up today.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking,

“Why on earth did I agree to this challenge in the first place?” 

I’ll be honest and admit that I’m writing this with a bit of angst in my chest. You’d think, after 2 or 3 years of being vulnerable online, I’d be used to this.

I’m a firm believer in sharing all parts of the process, but I am human too. The thought of saying, 

“Hey, guys. So last week didn’t work out either,” makes me feel nervous because who wants to admit that they’re “failing”?

The anxiety in me pictures the ones shaking their heads thinking, “Girl, give it a rest you aren’t ready.” And while I may never encounter these people face-to-face, the thought still daunts me. No one likes showing their mistakes in front of the world – even if the world is 30 – 40 readers.

I guess it’s part of the conditioning that comes with “Hustle” culture. You have to have everything together at all times.

But, I can’t blame hustle culture alone. There is also the part of me that questions when will I get this right? When does this process become a well-oiled machine?

I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve wondered if I’m ready for this. Did I start too early? Should this have waited?

Simple answer: No.

As I share my fears, doubts, and concerns, I can also acknowledge the stubborn resilience in me. The side of me that says:

This stuff happens. Carry on.

Last week’s post was about the reality of starting a project and dear reader, you have a front-row seat to my experience. It makes me uncomfortable, but it pushes me to be accountable, too.

By the time the end of the week came through, I knew that there was more work to be done. But first, I needed to lay off the work and take a break.

On Thursday evening, I closed my word processor and accepted that no social media or blogging was going to be done. My mind was shot, my schedule was a mess, and I knew it was time to throw in the towel – for the week.

This is what my process looked like, and maybe it’ll help you navigate your troublesome moments too.

When to temporarily throw in the towel:

  1. Evaluate the situation for what it is

Put your go-getter mentality aside, take a look at what you’re really dealing with, and understand what it is doing to you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

  1. Spell out the conclusions for yourself

This is another way of saying you need to accept that things are not working out and instead of trying to fight through it, you need to pause. Sometimes resistance doesn’t mean “fight back harder”, it means stop fighting and let go.

  1. Ignore the guilt that will try to pull you back

Taking a step back, or putting things on hold, will trigger feelings of doubt. You’re going to question your decisions – why you started, should you have started, are you a quitter, etc. Ride the wave, but stick to your decision.

  1. Indulge in activities that bring you joy and rest

This is where you listen to your body

  1. Try again

If you want to see your idea live past the initial stages, you’re going to have to get used to trying again many times. I’m learning this reality all over again.

Last week may have only seen two posts out, but I’ve managed to make changes in my personal and professional life that will allow for easier navigation. I spent the weekend identifying a system that would work for me.

This week is for testing it out and so far it’s working. The test will be how I handle this week’s midweek madness. Until then, I’ll keep focusing on how to make this process work for me – and you, of course.

Lockdown Lifted: Life on the Other Side

The truth is…I’m still a bit scared.

artsy-solomon-nappy-

There’s an air of elation on the island as the government released an update on the lifted lockdown. By the end of this week, most businesses (including restaurants, hotels, and casinos) will be up and running.

By the 1st of June, most public facilities will be open and life will be relatively normal. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, after two months of intense indoor life.

You’d think that I’d be out on the roads right now, marveling at how far we’ve come.

But, to be honest, I’m still struggling to adjust.

Some parts of my mind have not accepted that the lockdown is over. It could be because most of my online peers are in locations where restrictions are still in place, or maybe it’s because I’ve only left the house twice to do my weekly shopping, but I’m still in “Vigilant Mode”.

Some may applaud this attitude of mine because the pandemic is still going on and we “can’t rest yet”. But a  part of me does wonder if my mind is still processing the intensity of what we went through.

I think a lot of us will have those moments of hesitation. We’ll find that our fear will overwhelm our relief and that’s okay.

Because this global pandemic is and was a traumatic experience.

The world came to a standstill with no warning and we were (and still are) processing it all at the same time. We’re all waiting for answers and the eventual end of it. It’s hard to think that while I live in an area with 0 active cases, there are countries with cases that go into the 10,000s.

 

Sometimes, it’s hard to celebrate when you know it’s a completely different story for other communities.

It hasn’t sunk in that the lockdown is over. 

I hear the traffic outside, the sounds of people walking and laughing together, and I see the stories on my social media. Everyone has eagerly embraced post-lockdown life – from beach visits to long walks and trips to the nearest ice cream outlet. 

You can think of this lift as a gift from summer – we actually get to have one. 

My chest definitely feels lighter, knowing that the COVID-19 situation was dealt with effectively. I’m grateful for what the government put in place to protect the country and it feels good to know that I can order food again.

But I can’t ignore the occasional tightness in my chest. The anxiety that flares when I think of my loved ones in other countries.

But, I remind myself to look for the light.

In last week’s post, I said the only way I’ve been able to navigate this pandemic is by putting in boundaries and holding on to hope – even if I don’t know what that hope looks like.

So, I’ll take this situation as a reason not just to be hopeful but to be glad. Two months ago, when the first cases were announced, we had no idea what to expect. I was scared and tried not to think of the worst. The uncertainty of the situation was overwhelming.

But two months later, here we are. Most public facilities will be open by the end of this week. I can see my friends again – with a mask, I know – and I can enjoy long walks to anywhere I choose to go. Public transport will be back soon and I’ll finally get to see my best friend.

 

In a world with so much angst and uncertainty, I think it is important to hold on to the moments of hope. To actively remember them and know that better days will come.

 

Yes, there is the fear of a second wave. Yes, I still worry about my loved ones across the world. Yes, the pandemic is still raging on.

 

But, if I focus on this alone and choose to neglect the slivers of light, how will I ever get to see the sun on my face again?